Quintus Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius

Quintus Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius

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Quintus Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius (floruit 361-384) was a Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 politician, praefectus urbi
Praefectus urbi
The praefectus urbanus or praefectus urbi, in English the urban prefect, was prefect of the city of Rome, and later also of Constantinople. The office originated under the Roman kings, continued during the Republic and Empire, and held high importance in late Antiquity...

of Rome in 368–370 and Roman consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 in 379. Olybrius has been characterized as belonging to "the breed of flexible politicians who did well both under Valentinian I
Valentinian I
Valentinian I , also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west....

 [...] and under Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers...

."

Life


Olybrius was a member of the senatorial aristocracy of Rome.

He was the son of Clodius Celsinus Adelphius, who had been praefectus urbi
Praefectus urbi
The praefectus urbanus or praefectus urbi, in English the urban prefect, was prefect of the city of Rome, and later also of Constantinople. The office originated under the Roman kings, continued during the Republic and Empire, and held high importance in late Antiquity...

in 351, and of Faltonia Betitia Proba
Faltonia Betitia Proba
Faltonia Betitia Proba was a Latin Roman Christian poetess, possibly the most influential Latin poetess of Late Antiquity....

, a poetess. His brother, Faltonius Probus Alypius
Faltonius Probus Alypius
- Life :Alypius was the son of Clodius Celsinus Adelphius, Praefectus urbi of Rome in 351, and of the Christian poetess Faltonia Betitia Proba. His brother, Quintus Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius, was Roman consul in 379....

, was praefectus urbi of Rome in 391. Proba converted to Christianity, and later had his husband and his sons, Olybrius included, convert to the same religion.

Olybrius married Tirrania Anicia Juliana, a member of the Anicia
Anicia (gens)
The gens Anicia was a plebeian family at Rome, mentioned first towards the end of the 4th century BC The first of the Anicii under to achieve prominence under the Republic was Lucius Anicius Gallus, who conducted the war against the Illyrii during the Third Macedonian War, in 168 BC.A noble family...

 gens, whose father, Anicius Auchenius Bassus
Anicius Auchenius Bassus (consul 408)
Anicius Auchenius Bassus was a politician of the Roman Empire.In 408 he was appointed consul. According to B.L. Twyman, he represents the "mainline" of the gens Anicia....

, was praefectus urbi of Rome in 382 and consul in 408. Olybrius and Juliana had a daughter, Anicia Faltonia Proba
Anicia Faltonia Proba
Anicia Faltonia Proba was a Roman noblewoman of the gens Anicia.- Biography :Proba's father was Quintus Clodius Hermogenianus Olybrius ; the famous poet Faltonia Betitia Proba was a relative...

.

He reached the rank of vir clarissimus, then consularis
Consularis
Consularis is a Latin word, derived from consulo, "take counsel".-Roman history:Originally it was simple and adjective meaning "consular", but more interestingly it has also become a substantive, used in technical meanings.* Any former consul...

of Campania (before 361 he is attested as patron of Formia
Formia
Formia is a city and comune in the province of Latina, on the Mediterranean coast of Lazio . It is located halfway between Rome and Naples, and lies on the Roman-era Appian Way.-History:...

), proconsul
Proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...

 of Africa Province
Africa Province
The Roman province of Africa was established after the Romans defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War. It roughly comprised the territory of present-day northern Tunisia, and the small Mediterranean coast of modern-day western Libya along the Syrtis Minor...

 (361), praefectus urbi
Praefectus urbi
The praefectus urbanus or praefectus urbi, in English the urban prefect, was prefect of the city of Rome, and later also of Constantinople. The office originated under the Roman kings, continued during the Republic and Empire, and held high importance in late Antiquity...

of Rome (369-370), Praetorian prefect of Illyricum, Praetorian prefect of the East, and consul in 379. He died between 384 and 395.

During his office as praefectus urbi, which was generally calm and balanced, he arrested two suspected poisoners. He led the investigations, but he got ill and they passed to the praefectus annonae
Praefectus annonae
The praefectus annonae was a Roman imperial official charged with the supervision of the grain supply to the city of Rome. Under the republic, the job was usually done by an aedile...

, Maximinus
Maximinus (Praetorian Prefect)
Maximinus was a Roman barrister and Praetorian Prefect of the later fourth century AD.-Origins:Maximinus was born in Sopianae, Pannonia. His family was of Carpic origin. Maximinus' father was an accountant in the provincial government office of Pannonia Valeria.Maximinus studied law, and practiced...

. He was then succeeded by Publius Ampelius.

In his consulate he was posterior to his colleague, the poet Ausonius
Ausonius
Decimius Magnus Ausonius was a Latin poet and rhetorician, born at Burdigala .-Biography:Decimius Magnus Ausonius was born in Bordeaux in ca. 310. His father was a noted physician of Greek ancestry and his mother was descended on both sides from long-established aristocratic Gallo-Roman families...

, because he was the younger prefect. Ausonius had been in fact appointed Praetorian prefect of Gaul in late 377. Olybrius had been appointed prefect of Illyricum by emperor Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers...

 probably at the beginning of 378, in the wake of the preparations for the war against the Goths in Thracia that led to the defeat and death of emperor Valens
Valens
Valens was the Eastern Roman Emperor from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I after the latter's accession to the throne...

 in the Battle of Adrianople in the August of that year.

It is also known that Olybrius was in Sirmium
Sirmium
Sirmium was a city in ancient Roman Pannonia. Firstly mentioned in the 4th century BC and originally inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts, it was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and subsequently became the capital of the Roman province of Lower Pannonia. In 294 AD, Sirmium was...

 when he was appointed consul by Gratian, who also had already conferred upon Olybrius the Praetorian prefecture of the East.

Quintus Aurelius Symmachus
Quintus Aurelius Symmachus
Quintus Aurelius Symmachus was a Roman statesman, orator, and man of letters. He held the offices of governor of Africa in 373, urban prefect of Rome in 384 and 385, and consul in 391...

 records a trial in which he was a judge. A land-owner called Scirtius had been dispossessed of his property and had complained to Symmachus, who had then issued a decree giving the land back to Scirtius. Symmachus tells that he discovered that Olybrius was behind this misappropriation and that some of agents had tried to avoid the restitution of the stolen property even kidnapping people and bribing witnesses. Thus Olybrius is depicted as violent and greedy. This view is somehow confirmed by Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

' description of Olybrius' office as prefect: the historian, in fact, describes Olybrius as overly-interested in luxury.

Sources

  • John Robert Martindale, Arnold Hugh Martin Jones, John Morris, The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Cambridge University Press, 1971, pp. 640–642.